Students observe solar energy being transferred into thermal and mechanical energy using a radiometer.
When light rays hit the vanes, the black sides of the vanes absorb the rays better than the white sides. The black sides heat up and the molecules in the air around them move faster than the molecules in the air near the white sides. The difference in pressure on the vanes causes them to turn. The brighter the light, the faster the vanes will rotate. A partial vacuum inside the glass allows the vanes to spin easily.
The solar energy is changed first to thermal energy (the molecules on the black sides heat up), and then to mechanical energy (the vanes spin).
Students will be able to:
- Explain how solar energy can be transferred to thermal or mechanical energy
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Full Lesson & other activities - Solar Energy